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SwiftKey looking for India head; plans more tie-ups with local handset vendors

By the end of March, SwiftKey will bring in a big improvement on its keyboard application, which will deliver a full set of 22 constitutional languages of India.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Feb 17, 2015, 04.11 PM IST
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The company has developed over 90 languages globally and maintains partnerships with over 60 smartphone vendors. (Getty Images)
The company has developed over 90 languages globally and maintains partnerships with over 60 smartphone vendors. (Getty Images)
NEW DELHI: SwiftKey, the London-headquartered keyboard application for smartphones and tablets, is planning to hire a country manager in India, as it looks to aggressively increase the number of downloads in the country to take on other popular keyboard apps such as Google Hindi and Swype.

“Having a country manager will make a great difference in India, as our customers and partners will have someone to talk to on a day to day basis,” Eric D. Collins, vice president-monetization & distribution, for SwiftKey, told ET.

He added that the company is making technical investments to improve the software. By the end of March, SwiftKey will bring in a big improvement on its keyboard application, which will deliver a full set of 22 constitutional languages of India.

It has teamed up with language experts from the Jawahar Lal Nehru Unversity (JNU), Delhi, to bring out the latest update with new language pack.

“This is the right time to be laser focused in the country and getting the product and experience right. We continue to invest in the product in the country,” Collins said.

SwiftKey Keyboard, in June 2014, shedded its $3.99 price tag to become free globally. Since then, the keyboard has seen over 3 million downloads on the Android platform in the Indian market, driven by tie-ups with seven Indian smartphone makers to preinstall the app on their devices.

“We have seen adoption among OEMs (original equipment makers) ramping up. We have seven Indian OEMs who have signed deals in India and most of them have started shipping into the market place with our solution preinstalled,” Collins said, adding that Micromax and Spice are among seven OEMs that are its partners in India He said that the keyboard app maker is talking to more smartphone vendors to further enhance the reach of the application among smartphone user base in the country.

The company came up with this model for the wider adoption of the application globally. Collins said that the model has been successful in the country so far.
On monetisation, Collins said that the company is currently focusing on customer engagement and acquisition and hasn’t reached that level wherein it can think of monetising the app. However, the company did make available paid content in the Indian market in the form of themes for the keyboard apps.

SwiftKey, last year, collaborated with Intel to build a personal “language model” for the world-renowned scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, making it easier for him to write and communicate. The software learns from Hawking to ensure it predicts contextually relevant words and is also able to analyze the content of the specific book or lecture that he might be working on, further tailoring its predictions and autocorrections.

The company has developed over 90 languages globally and maintains partnerships with over 60 smartphone vendors.

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